AMD has used CES to lay out its plans for 2018. Over the first half of the year, the company is going to release the final missing members of the Ryzen product line-up. Starting in April and continuing into the second half of the year, Ryzen will start rolling out a refreshed version of its Zen core. We’ll also see a more complete GPU line-up released over the next year—but there aren’t plans to release a more mainstream Vega-based GPU range.
The first mobile-oriented Ryzen APUs (CPUs with integrated GPUs) were released last year. On January 9, the company will add Ryzen 3-branded low-end parts to the line-up, and February 12 will see the launch of desktop APUs. In the second quarter, Ryzen Pro Mobile parts—more or less identical to the regular Ryzen Mobile parts but with the lifecycle guarantees that enterprise buyers often demand for their fleets—will be released.
Those desktop parts, in particular, fill a significant gap in the current Ryzen range. Integrated graphics are the mainstay of both mobile and desktop computing. Without a complete range of integrated GPU parts, there are large markets where AMD can’t compete with Intel. By the middle of the year, AMD should have an integrated GPU part to compete with almost every one of Intel’s processors, opening up the corporate and mainstream desktop market to the company, as well as laptop markets. The only remaining gaps will be high-power mobile processors and server processors for four or more sockets.
Even as the first-generation Ryzen products continue to be rolled out, AMD is moving on with the first iteration. In April, Ryzen processors will come to market that have the “Zen+” core and have been built on Global Foundries’ 12nm process, which is believed to be a refined version of its 14nm process. These will be followed in the second half of the year by a Zen+ Threadripper and a Zen+ Ryzen Pro for the desktop.
(Zen+ is a minor refresh to Zen. It won’t substantially alter the basic characteristics of the devices—they’ll support broadly the same instruction sets, execution units, system topology, and so on—but there will be some small optimizations and, we’d expect, clock-speed improvements.)
The first big revision will be Zen 2 in 2019. AMD has confirmed that this design is complete and says that it improves on Zen in “multiple dimensions.” Zen 2 will be built on Global Foundries’ 7nm process. AMD intends to follow this in 2020 with Zen 3, built on a refined “7nm+” process.
For graphics, 2018 will see AMD’s Vega graphics core expanding its reach. The expanded range of mobile APUs and the launch of the desktop APUs will be a large part of that, as is Intel’s hybrid Kaby Lake-G processor. AMD also plans to ship discrete Vega mobile GPUs in 2018.
What isn’t on the roadmap is a wider range of discrete desktop GPUs. The Vega 64 and Vega 56 parts are both premium-priced cards, and, at least for the foreseeable future, they’re going to be AMD’s only Vega desktop chips. Longer term, the company is planning Vega built on 7nm (skipping the 12nm process), followed by “Navi,” also on 7nm. By the end of 2020, the next generation of architecture will be built on 7nm+.